The US has lost the ability to win wars, Taiwan should take note: US scholar
Published: Jul 06, 2022 08:46 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Editor's Note:

Since US President Joe Biden inherited the reckless China policy of the previous administration, friction points between China and the US over the Taiwan question have greatly increased. The US is believed to be engaging in a "cognitive warfare" campaign with an attempt to blur the fact that Taiwan is part of China by playing tricks such as supporting its participation in the UN system and claiming the Taiwan Straits are international waters. What's the purpose of the US chipping away at the one-China policy? Will Washington shift from "strategic ambiguity" to "strategic clarity" over Taiwan? These series of interviews seek to find the answer.

In the third piece of the series, Clifford A Kiracofe (Kiracofe), an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, shared with Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui why the US commitments to Taiwan island are not as "rock solid" as the US claims, and what lessons the island should learn from the US treatment of allies. 

GT: Chinese observers think that the US is increasingly taking concrete actions to hollow out the "one China" policy. What's your take on it? 

The US apparently does not believe in a "One China" defined as Taiwan being a province of China. In effect, the US believes in "Two Chinas" with Taiwan being a separate entity. Both parties in Congress support this view that Taiwan is a separate entity. The US is preparing the US public and international opinion for a possible war against China. 

GT: The basis for China and the US to maintain a minimum degree of normal relations is for the US to insist on the one China policy and not support "Taiwan independence." Will the US do so in the future? 

It is true that a One China policy is the right path. But the US apparently has a "Two Chinas" policy despite any rhetoric denying this. This is obvious to any observer. This implies that the US will continue to support a two track policy. That is, the US will pretend it has a One China policy but, in fact, the US will pursue a "Two Chinas" policy overtly and covertly supporting "Taiwan independence." US policy gives the appearance of supporting "Taiwan independence." Congress is fully on board with this policy. Thus, tensions increase in Taiwan Straits. This is inevitable given Washington's policy.

GT: Biden said the US will militarily defend Taiwan if it's attacked by the mainland on several occasions, but every time White House officials soon denied the US has changed its Taiwan policy. In your opinion, will the US abandon strategic ambiguity and move toward strategic clarity? 

The US is moving from, or has moved from, a so-called policy of ambiguity to a policy of "clarity". This means that US will use military means against China to defend Taiwan from Chinese mainland. President Biden himself has said this although his staff tried to walk that back. The fact is that the Pentagon is in overdrive preparing for war over Taiwan. Taiwan is seen as a separate entity and not a part of China. Congress supports this view and it is bipartisan. So, tensions will rise and we can see this already in the Taiwan Straits area with naval and air activity.

GT: Biden said the US and China need to establish "guardrails" to "manage the competition between China and the US responsibly, avoiding competition sliding into war. But the risks of war in the Taiwan Straits are increasing. Why has been the case? 

The US' talk about so-called guardrails has no practical significance. It is merely empty rhetoric. Washington is incapable of sincere diplomacy as Russia has found. In the past, China could exercise strategic patience but the situation is different today. Both the Taiwan and US leadership appear delusional and thus are not rational actors. So, China's leadership may decide that firm measures are needed to safeguard Chinese sovereignty sooner rather than later. China has been very patient so far.

Taiwan is part of China just as Hawaii is part of the US. But the US increases provocations and thus the situation becomes more dangerous all the time. It is logical for China and its formidable PLA to take appropriate measures in the face of increasing threats. Any country would do this. These threats include US weapons sales and military aid to Taiwan as well as increasing US naval and air activity in the Pacific. This is plain for all to see. 

GT: The US has repeatedly emphasized its commitments to Taiwan. But seen from the Afghanistan and Ukraine cases, it seems the US is increasingly difficult to keep its commitments to allies. What message do you think this is sending to Taiwan?

Taiwan should reflect on the fact that the US has lost four wars since World War II: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Judging from this historical record, the US has lost the ability to win wars and has lost any sense of prudence and restraint. The Ukraine military while putting up an initial spirited defense is now being systematically liquidated. Taiwan should take note and carefully reflect.

GT: The DPP authorities reportedly have paid $140,000 in service fees to political lobbying agents for pulling strings to get former US President Trump to receive Tsai Ing-wen's phone call. Is the relationship between the US and Taiwan regional authorities based on money really as solid as they claimed? 

Such anti-Beijing lobbying is nothing new and involves money for the lobbying and anti-Communism for the ideology. The present day "Taiwan Lobby" is in some ways like what we used to call the pro-Chiang Kai-shek "China Lobby" back in the early Cold War days. It very effectively spread money and influence around Washington back then. The politicians in Washington these days are almost all pro-Taiwan although now they appear strongly DPP oriented. Congress will continue to be strongly pro-Taiwan as Congress is ideologically frozen in the Cold War mentality.

GT: From 1 to 10, how likely do you think a military conflict between China and the US will break out over the Taiwan question?

I would say at this point the possibility is six in 10. This is for three reasons. First, US foreign policy is completely militarized and the US has been actively at war for the last two decades. Second, the US has learned no lessons from past policy failures. The US lost the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War, and Afghan War. Third, the US foreign policy elites remain bellicose and delusional. It is incapable of prudence and restraint at this time in US history.